The Comic Book Club: “Batman” x 2 and “The Extremist”

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EVAN: Now, Batman Inc. #1: this is the stuff. What makes Sexy Times Batman and Catwoman heading toward an inevitable face-off with an obscure manga Bat-villain in Japan enjoyable is the transparent glee Morrison and Paquette have in putting the thing together. The operatic pacing of the opening pages, the Akihabara-style establishing shot filled with otaku in-jokes, and Bruce and Selina on a super-date all jump up and down and tell you that the creators are having fun. Not only are they enjoying themselves, but so is Batman. This goes back to the well-adjusted Bat-vibe I think Morrison’s trying to set up in this next stage of his Bat-saga.

And obvious sexual innuendos aside, I’m pretty sure Selina singing while cracking the safe is a Hudson Hawk reference.

DOUGLAS: I don’t yet love Batman Inc. the way I adored Batman & Robin from the get-go–although that front cover really is everything I’d want it to be. (There’s nothing in here so far that hits the kinds of buttons Dick and Damian’s relationship did.) But what I do really like is the way Morrison and Paquette have given this series its own look and feel, too; it doesn’t read like any other superhero comic out this month. It’s gaudy and grotesque and funny and packed with hints at an even bigger, crazier world outside its panels. Favorite single moment: the “OMG it’s BEHIND YOU’ trope of Catwoman reaching for the jewel, not noticing the giant robot mouse behind her… and then cut to the next page and Bruce and Selina-as-“Elva” hanging out in their underwear and offhandedly referring to having dispatched the giant robot mouse. (I also love the idea of Selina rolling her eyes at stereotypical Japanese tentacle fetishes, given her own clothing preferences.)

This issue is much more surface-y than the best Morrison Batman stuff of the past few years, but it does feel like a carefully crafted surface: fun and fast, all about action and flash and sex, a rock skipped across the surface of the DCU.

GRAEME: Yeah, this felt like the new beginning that I’d been looking for with Batman: The Return – an actual beginning, and things actually moving forward, as opposed to The Return‘s more awkward “No, we are moving forward, honest, we’re just not SHOWING you anything new right now because, uh, just because, okay?!?”

It helped that the tone was, if anything, more whimsical than Morrison had been giving us in the first Batman and Robin issues – Come on, those questions at the end of the issue? Those are straight out of the end of the ’66 TV show, or perhaps Morrison’s Seaguy – and a reminder that this series really is Morrison channeling his best Bob Haney Brave and Bold issues (See also super sexy Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle time).

(More on Techland: The Comic Book Club: Batman & Robin and Amazing Spider-Man)

Also, I love love love Yanick Paquette’s art here: It’s like Kevin Nowlan in a lot of places, but there’s something more… cartoony, maybe? Less static, anyway, about it, and he really helps set the tone in this issue – There’s action and danger and all, but it all looks wonderfully glamorous. I can’t imagine any of Morrison’s previous Bat-artists managing to pull balance off as well, to be honest.

Only thing I didn’t like about the issue? It’s completely anal, but Catwoman’s costume being opened to expose the cleavage. Sorry, people, I know it ruins my sexy cred, but Darwyn Cooke’s original design was so, so much more subtle in its hotness. Selina doesn’t need to offer the cleavage to seduce Bats; he loves her for her dirty, dirty mind.

EVAN: Glamorous came to mind for me, too; the costume liberties felt off. Those goggles should be on the face and that zipper pulled up. I mean, she’s already in skin-tight leather and then in sports bra, thong and knee-high boots. It kinda teeters on the edge of camp, like she wandered in from the set of Burlesque.

DOUGLAS: Agreed. Even when Cooke drew her with her zipper a little bit down, it was more about hinting than exposing, and nowhere near this top-heavy.

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